Sunday, August 16, 2009

LMS - what do they need to be effective?

I have used Blackboard, and I am familiarising myself with Moodle - apparently these are both LMS or learning management systems. I must admit that my first forays into Blackboard left me more enraged than engaged in the whole process. I was the total immigrant - I didn't know how to use it, I didn't know what it could do or where to find everything I needed. Again, it was my peers that saved me from feeling like a total failure in the new technology department. Now I can navigate with ease (and I remember where I found "stuff"). Having experienced Blackboard, I was not daunted when faced with Moodle - I feel more like an explorer. Where can I go? What can I see? What will I find?

My tech-savvy peers discovered e-learning last year and would bandy around the term "virtual classroom" - not being part of their e-world I felt a little left out and could not wait to discover what this could be. Little did I know, Blackboard (and to that effect LMS) IS a virtual classroom.

I decided, in my wisdom, to do a google search and see what I could find. Imagine my surprise when I saw an article by Siemens that stated that LMS is the "wrong place to start learning".
In looking at an LMS it would be wrong to assume that by exposing "students to the content, learning will happen" (Siemens, 2004).

Detractors of LMS will state that it is a very structured tool that does not cater for the learning/teaching styles of the instructor or student, and is seen as as having a linear and one way information flow. Siemens also states that learners learn in "chaotic" ways, so an LMS must have learner control so that they can seek out information according to their preferred learning styles and intelligences.

For an LMS to be successful in the learning environment, Siemens (2004) states that it should contain a combination of learning spaces - blogs, wikis, collaborative environments - as it is easier to learn in a community rather than a confined and content locked LMS.

"The instructor provides planned exposure to content and learning intentions and then "unleashes" the learners in exploration and expression determined by their (the learners) choices."

Yet again, I find that this statement describes my e-learning journey. I have been "unleashed" on Moodle, and allowed to explore it when and where I want. The content is there for me to explore at will (however chaotic that may seem), there are opportunities for me to develop within a community of learners (blogs, forums), and I am expressing how my learning is developing.

In the classroom, it will be important for me to provide the same kind of learning experiences for my students. Having an awareness of their learning styles will enable me to provide opportunities for them to explore content in ways that will make it meaningful to them. As Connor (2002-2009) states "informal learning accounts for over 75% of the learning taking place in organisations today."

Connor, M (2002-2009)
Introducing Informal Learning. Downloaded August 2009 from

Education Queensland. Virtual Classrooms. Downloaded August 2009 from

Siemens, G (2004)
Learning Management Systems: The wrong place to start learning. Downloaded August 2009 from

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